Mercy Hospital Ada welcomes new director of mission integration

Sister Catherine Darcy

Sister Catherine Darcy’s resume includes assignments as a parish worker, a teacher and a diocesan administrator.

Now, she is taking that wealth of experience into a new setting.

Darcy is the new director of mission integration at Mercy Hospital Ada, part of the Mercy Health System network of hospitals and clinics. The job involves helping her fellow staffers promote the hospital’s mission statement and values, which include justice, service and stewardship.

“We collaborate together in the living of the mission and in the embracing of the values that we set ourselves,” Darcy said Tuesday.

Sisters of Mercy

As a young girl, Darcy grew up in a Catholic household and attended schools operated by the Sisters of Mercy in Red Bank, New Jersey. She was in high school when she started thinking seriously about joining the order.

“I really was drawn to the sisters and to their ministry,” she said. “I think over the years, I learned a lot of other reasons why I might have been drawn, but initially it was the sisters.”

Darcy said the Second Vatican Council of the early 1960s, which addressed the relationship between the Catholic Church and the modern world, ushered in several changes designed to modernize the church. Darcy was in high school at the time, and she remembered that period as an exciting time that appealed to her as a Catholic.

After finishing college, Darcy entered the Mount St. Mary convent in Lakewood, New Jersey, in 1970. She completed her novitiate — a probationary period for novices — at the mother house in Watchung, New Jersey, and professed her first vows before receiving her first teaching assignment in Rumson.

“I was there a year, teaching little kids, and it wasn’t for me, truthfully,” Darcy said. “So after that first year, I went to teach at Notre Dame High School outside of Trenton, New Jersey.”

She remained at Notre Dame High School, where she taught math and religion, for four years. Following that assignment, she was a youth minister in Sacred Heart Parish in Bay Head, New Jersey, from 1978 until 1982.

Next, she went to Freehold, New Jersey, and worked with the parish family of St. Robert Bellarmine for five years. During that time, Darcy realized that she wanted to study the Catholic Church in depth.

In 1987, Darcy had a chance to study canon law — the set of laws governing the church. She studied at the Catholic University of America, where she earned her first degree in canon law.

She later earned a doctorate in canon law from St. Paul’s University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

After receiving her doctorate, Darcy returned to Trenton and served for five years in the Diocese of Trenton’s tribunal.

She later went to Las Cruces, New Mexico, where she served as the administrative director and a judge on the tribunal. Then in 2000, Darcy took on an administrative role as chancellor of the diocese.

Following her time in New Mexico, Darcy joined the leadership team for the Philadelphia-centered Mid-Atlantic Community of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. She held that position until she accepted the job with Mercy Hospital Ada.

‘Meet people

where they are’

Darcy said she was attending an advocacy conference last year when she met Kevin Minder, executive director of mission and community health with Mercy Health System’s ministry office in St. Louis. Minder told her about the Ada job, and she decided she wanted to learn more about it.

Darcy later spoke to Brian O’Toole, senior vice president for mission and ethics at the ministry office, about the job. She said the chance to work in a rural area was part of the appeal.

“I had some experience in a rural setting in New Mexico, and I really enjoyed it,” she said. “I like it better than big cities, truthfully. So that was an initial attraction.”

Darcy later met with Mercy Hospital Ada President Lori Wightman. Based on that meeting, Darcy knew Ada was the right place for her.

Darcy joined the staff at Mercy about a month ago. She said she has a lot to learn about health care and about Oklahoma, but she feels she is on the right track.

She said her first priority is getting to know as many people as possible and find out what Mercy’s mission statement and values mean to them.

“The experience that I’ve had tells me that you need to meet people where they are and get to know them where they are, and then see where it goes,” she said.

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